Drummer’s pregame routine lands him starting role on football team
When Destrehan senior Bailey Lanier takes the football field this fall it will be in two capacities, that of a marching band drummer and as the team’s starting punter.
The 6-foot-2 Destrehan senior weighs in at 180 pounds. Given his size, it is only natural that he is a member of the football team. However, it was not until this year – his senior year – that the 17-year-old Lanier suited up in a football uniform for the first time.
“I’ve never played in my life,” Lanier said.
In fact, he had to be lured away from the marching band by Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux to take the job as starting punter for the team and it was only by a fluke that he was asked to do that.
Robicheaux noticed Lanier “messing around” punting the ball as part of the marching band in pre-game warmups.
“We were watching him at practice. The band always goes to practice before the game. There was buzz about this kid who was booming the ball,” he said.
Faced with losing both kickers from 2013 season Robicheaux saw Lanier as a a diamond in the rough and went and grabbed him and persuading him to join the team.
“We begged him to come out. He has the right body type, remniscent of Mike Scifres,” he said.
Lanier said he was surprised when Robicheaux asked him to try out for the team. At the time he had been to every Destrehan football game for the past three years as a drummer in the marching band, never did he think he would be out on the field in a different capacity.
“We joked about it in the stands, but I never thought it would happen,” he said.
It was not that Lanier was not athletic, he played soccer and baseball growing up and even played soccer as a freshman before having to give up the sport due to conflicts with his first love – playing drums in the marching band.
In fact, it was as a soccer player that Lanier learned how to punt.
Throughout his playing career he was a goalie and often made drop kicks while on the field. Though a football is certainly shaped differently, Lanier said punting it is not much different from drop kicking a soccer ball and the results are starting to show.
Lanier quickly sealed his position as starting punter and took to the field the first time this spring.
“I was nervous at first, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” he said.
For Lanier, the move from band to being on the football team is really not much of a change. He will continue to play in the marching band, albeit in partial uniform, at halftime shows and if Destrehan’s offense is anything like it was last year they should not have to use his abilities too much.
While practice is ongoing Lanier has had to split time between football and marching band.
“It is tough,” he said. “Sometimes I have to split practices, but it is a good being part of two great programs.”
Still, even with the decreased reps and late introduction to the sport, Robicheaux said he feels Lanier has a chance to kick at the next level if he works on his game.
“As far as length strength, his is as good as anyone we’ve had here. He just needs to learn. He’ll boom 60 yards in practice, but he doesn’t do it consistently.”
For Lanier, who is intent on pursuing a degree in music education, the prospect of playing football in college is attractive, but he is sure to not get ahead of himself even though he has kicked up 65 yards in practice. Having never been in a game yet, Lanier said he needs to take it one step at a time and a big part of that is just becoming comfortable with mechanics of the game.
“Everyone has been helping me out. The coaches all have experience punting and then last year’s punter came and gave me some tips,” he said.
Over the past five months Lanier has picked up more and more on punting and he is currently working on rugby style punting.
“He (Robicheaux) wants to me to roll out towards the sideline,” he said. “Since I have experience with soccer they think I can kick rugby style.”
In the long run, Lanier said he feels he will be able to juggle both marching band and football and hopes that by doing so he can inspire other students who may want to be involved in two extracurricular activities at the same time.
“It is possible to be in two completely different groups and still succeed,” he said.
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